Reading Response #2 to Artful Design • Chapter 2: “Designing Expressive Toys”

Aaron H.
Music 256A / CS476a, Stanford University

First off, I want to say how much I appreciate the Idyllic depiction of Assassin’s Creed. Assassin’s Creed used to be one of my favorite games of all time, especially the 2nd one with Ezio Auditore. In all honesty, I fell off the games because I felt they began divulging from the amazing story and character development of the originals. The game play also became more God of War like, but with that, the game appears to be stunning. Instead of replicating a well-known city and immersing you in the tension navigating crowds covertly, there seems to be a larger emphasis on reimaging mythology and transcended worlds. I definitely have focused more on fluid gameplay in the past, but this video has made me reevaluate how I explore games and appreciate the artistry in particular.

In regard to Ch 2., I felt really compelled to grapple with Ge’s statement about how technology “took away amateurship” but can potentially “bring it back”. I feel that there is currently less of an emphasis on partaking in hobbies unless you’re able to gain something from it. Whether that’s making a passion into a side hussle, showcasing it on tiktok, or pursuing it full time, I feel there is a constant pressure to evaluate the worth of doing something. This has become even more prevalent on social media where it feels as if everyone is always excelling at what they do. In this way, technology has made amateurship seem futile as there so much more celebration of going viral or making your skill an asset. On the other hand, technology has made artistry more accessible by creating fun toys. Guitar hero allows you to rock out by pressing buttons without having to spend time learning the instrument. Ge’s Ocarina embodies the iPhone as the instrument and has a worldwide listening the feature that connect people across the globe. Smule’s autotune makes you sound like a pop artist simply by talking into it. These examples that Ge points to in Artful Design are ways of getting back to amateurship by having fun. Maybe a more pressing issue , however, is how technology may threaten musicians as a whole, amateur and professional alike. One example is the current AI rapper FM Meka who takes on the resemblance of popular rappers. FN Meka, although currently controversial for some of its lyrics, has gained a lot of popularity and may be a glimpse of what to come. In an industry that has AI musicians and human musicians, what will come of music making? Will professional music shift in one direction or will there always need to be a human component despite how quickly technology advances?